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How to Calibrate a Salt Spreader

How to Calibrate a Salt Spreader

Justin Rollin

Evenly distributing salt on roads is essential for maintaining safe driving conditions in the winter. In order to perform an accurate calibration of road salt, the volumetric box needs to be calibrated to account for any variation in the salt densities and moisture content. The calibration process ensures that the application of the salt is even for maximum efficacy. If you’re in need of a bulk salt supplier, we are here to help!

Salt Spreader Calibration Process 

Salt spreading calibration is incredibly important, especially when it comes to tackling ice. But what is the process to calibrate your equipment? We’ve outlined the steps you should know below.  

Step 1: Write Down the Truck You’re Calibrating

Each spreader is slightly different and each requires different settings. Believe it or not, even if you have a fleet of spreaders that are the same model, make, and year, they will all deliver slightly different results. Make sure to outline the trucks that you’re calibrating to stay organized. 

Step 2: Set Your Truck’s Gate

The next step in how to calibrate spreaders is to set your truck’s gate. You’ll want to start by setting your truck’s gate to roughly 2 inches. Next, get your measuring tape and walk to the back of the truck to determine the height of the gate. In order to get an accurate measurement, you’ll want to measure from the trailer bed to the bottom of the rubber. Adjust the height until it’s at the right spot, and make sure to take note of the gate opening size in your calibration chart. 

Step 3: Count the Auger Revolutions

calibrating a spreader

The next step in how to calibrate a salt spreader requires a pen and paper. Grab a small piece of paper and draw a straight arrow on it. Take some tape (or grease) and put it on the paper so you can attach it to your truck’s shaft. The arrow should be pointing up as it makes it easy to count the auger revolutions. Every time the arrow hits the 12:00 position, you’ll know it has completed one rotation. 

Step 4: Ask a Friend for Assistance

If there is another individual around, now’s the time to grab them for assistance. Ensure that the auger is set to “1” and the spinner circuit is set to 0. You’ll want to stand next to the shaft while the other person is in the cab, revving the engine to 1,500-2,000 RPMs. Use a watch or timer to determine how many times the shaft revolves over a period of 60 seconds and write it on your calibration chart under “control setting 1”. Repeat this process for each auger setting. 

Step 5: Compile Your Supplies

Look at column B on your calibration chart as this is almost ready to be filled out. In this column, you’ll measure the discharge. Although this is a simple step, you’ll need to gather the right supplies including a scale, a bucket, and a tarp. 

Step 6: Measure the Discharge

salt spreader calibration

Next, you’ll want to ensure that the truck bed of your plow has the deicing material you’ll be using while you plow. You’ll want to place the tarp under the spinner and turn the spinner on and keep the auger set to a low setting. Start to release the salt onto the tarp for one full shaft revolution. Then gather the salt that the spreader released, put it into a bucket, and place the bucket on the scale. Enter the weight into the B column of your calibration chart.

Step 7: Calculate

Now that columns A and B are filled out, find column C by multiplying the numbers in A x B in your control settings. 

Recommended Timing and Frequency of Salt Spreader Calibration

One of the most important parts of maintaining your spreader system is to be strategic with the timing and frequency of the calibration. By maintaining your calibrated spreader/controller system, you will see the benefits through material and manpower cost savings. 

The ideal timing and frequency of the system calibration are addressed by different controller manufacturers. The approach is based on research and experience with winter maintenance personnel as well as representatives of controller manufacturers.

Here is guidance on when spreader/controller systems should be recalibrated:

  • When the spreader is new and first put into service
  • Once a year before snow and ice operations start
  • After the controller unit is repaired or when the speed sensors are replaced
  • After significant maintenance of the spreader truck is performed 
  • After the truck, hydraulic fluid and filters are replaced
  • After you switch products being used (e.g. sand versus salt)
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Calibrating a salt spreader is possible on your own but you can also contact the experienced team at Ninja De-Icer for help! Our team is passionate about serving our customers in the snow industry and helping them keep their properties safe and functional even during the worst weather. We look forward to hearing from you soon!